The first four years of the Bowl Championship Series on MNC Wednesday have produced mixed results, wherein the BCS got it right in the end, although by complete accident every time, really. We know more controversial days are ahead, so is this the best the “new” system had to offer us in finding a mythical national champion every year?
Let’s see how it worked out in Year 5!
The 2002 MNC: After kissing the sister four straight seasons, the BCS now kissed what?!
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results:
1. Ohio State: 14-0-0 — W, Fiesta, 31-24
2. Miami-FL: 12-1-0 — L, Fiesta, 24-31
3. Georgia: 13-1-0 — W, Sugar, 26-13
4. USC: 11-2-0 — W, Orange, 38-17
5. Oklahoma: 12-2-0 — W, Rose, 34-14
6. Texas: 11-2-0 — W, Cotton, 35-20
7. Kansas State: 11-2-0 — W, Holiday, 34-27
8. Iowa: 11-2-0 — L, Orange, 17-38
9. Michigan: 10-3-0 — W, Outback, 38-30
10. Washington State: 10-3-0 — L, Rose, 14-34
The Buckeyes and the Hurricanes faced off in an epic title game, as the only two undefeated teams in the country. On the surface, that seems like the BCS got it right this time: Yet, the advanced sabermetrics show the Trojans to be the best team in the country by almost four points over the Hurricanes on a neutral field.
But the Cougars won the Pac-10—not USC—thereby throwing Ohio State a nice break here (and helping us avoid a sticky analytical situation). The Bulldogs won the SEC, so they get advanced, and the Sooners win the Big XII to move on as well. The Boise State Broncos entered the national scene, too, posting a 12-1 mark, but they played the fifth-easiest schedule in the nation.
Overall now, that leaves us with 3 teams to examine down to the nitty gritty, as we are wont to do here. These are the respective SOS ratings for our finalists, after applying the context above:
- Ohio State: 14 Division I-A opponents, 3.99 SOS rating, 21st of 117
- Georgia: 13 Division I-A opponents, 3.96 SOS rating, 24th
- Oklahoma: 14 Division I-A opponents, 4.31 SOS rating, 17th
Again, USC finished with the No. 1 ranking in both the SRS and the SOS, meaning if the Trojans had won the Pac-12, they’d have been our pick for the MNC. As it stands, though, neither the Bulldogs nor the Sooners had the SOS strength to overcome the Buckeyes’ perfect season, and it’s clear USC was the best team in the country.
It’s always interesting how the cookie crumbles, though, and we’re going to say that the BCS got it “wrong” this year, for while we hold teams to conference titles as a minimum qualification, the BCS clearly had shown already it did not—which means the BCS should have chosen USC to play in the title game (although picking between the Hurricanes and the Buckeyes would have been crazy). The Pac-10 got screwed, again.
See what we mean? Miami had a higher SRS rating than Ohio State, while the Buckeyes had played a tougher schedule. Go figure. Picking a two-loss team as the No. 1 team in the country would have exposed the BCS to furor from the entire East and Midwest. But it would have been the right thing to do.
So, again, hesitantly, we say the BCS somewhat got it wrong this year, and after five seasons, let’s say the BCS is batting a little under .500 so far—which isn’t saying much for its value. For the record, this is Ohio State’s eighth MNC nod from us, which ties them with USC in our revision history of the MNC.
Congratulations to the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes, the mythical national champion!